Relativity founder and CEO Andrew Sieja doesn’t know what the next era of e-discovery will entail, but he knows it will involve the community seated before him at Relativity Fest.
Relativity’s software helps legal professionals sift through large volumes of data and documents and identify key issues for litigation. Its software is used by more than 180,000 people, including the U.S. Department of Justice, 70 Fortune 100 companies and the majority of firms on Am Law 200. Sieja presented the latest vision for his company as he kicked off the ninth annual user conference on Monday in front of about 2,000 lawyers, e-discovery professionals, developers and legal experts from around the world.
The Fest acts as a valuable gathering point to celebrate the company’s vibrant user community, making it as much a celebration of possibility as a forum for thought leadership.
Taking the stage behind joyful horns and strumming of a mariachi band, Sieja marveled at the evolution of e-discovery. The industry started with lawyers manually reviewing banker’s boxes full of documents and has evolved into sophisticated review teams analyzing massive amounts of electronic evidence through machine learning.
But it’s the next era that excites him the most.
“How exactly the next era will define our industry, I don’t know,” Sieja said. “We’re just one of the toolmakers, but given the tools, this community will do amazing things.”
The theme of possibility echoed throughout the keynote and conference.
On stage, Sieja demonstrated the company’s newest offerings, including its cloud-based software product, RelativityOne. Meanwhile, representatives from the international mining company Rio Tinto, the e-discovery firm D4, a division of Special Counsel, and the law firm Epstein Becker Green, discussed how their businesses have expanded through Relativity’s platform.
As Relativity’s community of customers and developers has grown, so too, has the conference. This year’s four-day event in downtown Chicago is the largest ever, with 300 speakers and 200 sessions. Each day is packed with panels, workshops and labs that span the latest trends and innovations in the e-discovery community.
There’s something for everybody, whether it’s an introduction to new tech, an opportunity to explore how tech influences court cases or even just a day to build relationships. Here are three ways Relativity is making an impact in their local community with things like Relativity Fest – and beyond.
With more than 2,000 legal professionals in one space, Relativity Fest is the marquee event for the platform’s developer community. Not only is the conference an opportunity to meet with new clients and investors, but it’s also a place to get feedback, explore the latest tech and focus on issues in the industry. Then there’s the cocktail events and opportunities to meet with colleagues outside of the office.
Two Chicago startups have built their businesses on Relativity’s extensible platform, giving the conference added meaning. Heretik co-founder Charlie Connor calls it his company’s Super Bowl. Heretik, which provides contract review technology, is in its second year as a sponsor for the event. Last year, he said they built connections with future investors and clients. This year, he aims to show them Heretik’s progress and advance those relationships. At Esquify, co-founder Drew Stern plans to host the diversity panel and meet with members of the Relativity ecosystem. Every year, he aims to leave the fest with new clients.
“The conference gives us the most value by far compared to any other conference,” said Stern, whose company provides document review software through Relativity’s platform. “The conversations are squarely focused on Relativity, and the vendor to client ratio is low.”
But most importantly, he said, it’s fun.
Explore the latest in technology
Every conference is a networking opportunity, but Relativity Fest also gives legal tech professionals the opportunity to learn from each other. Each event is designed to stoke conversations around building better software, learning about new applications and improving the e-discovery industry. Meanwhile, there are demonstration stations and meeting areas where attendees can try out the latest in e-discovery technology.
“That’s what Relativity Fest is all about,” said Shawn Gaines, director of product and community marketing at Relativity. “You get hands-on experience with new software, and you’re surrounded by people who can give you the context in how to use it.”
It’s not uncommon for attendees to take this knowledge back to their law firms or legal companies with ideas for a new software or tool to improve their processes, Gaines said.
For many lawyers, the conference is an opportunity to gain critical continuing legal education (CLE) credits needed to maintain their law license. The conference offers 19 different CLE workshops and a one-day pass for lawyers solely interested in spending the day gaining credits.
The workshops and panels are unique because they help lawyers bridge the gap between the law and technology. In today’s society, where smart appliances like TVs and refrigerators collect data about us, closing that gap is critical, said David Horrigan, discovery counsel and legal education director for Relativity.
The courses explore areas like autonomous vehicle regulations and the discovery of personal data gathered in smart appliances. Meanwhile, there’s a judicial panel that delves into diversity and inclusion in law. By the end of the conference, lawyers can walk away with all the credits they need for the year.
Relativity Fest is an e-discovery conference hosted by Relativity in Chicago every year. Relativity is growing. If you are interested in being part of Relativity's journey, check out its available positions.